Consumers Energy and T-Mobile have both announced plans to no longer accept credit card payments for customers on their Auto Pay programs.

Begin Personal Rant:

I am kind of pissed off about a text message I received the other day. T-Mobile sent me a 'courtesy' text to let me know that I will soon have to change my payment method if I want to continue receiving a $5 per line discount.

"Action Needed by 8/25/23. We're making changes to the payment methods that qualify for AutoPay discounts. To continue receiving the $25.00 AutoPay discount, you must update your patent method to a debit card or a bank account."

(We have five mobile phones on our family plan, and the $5 monthly discount applies to each line.)

The mobile phone carrier is - in my opinion - simply trying to save money by no longer paying the merchant fees charged by credit card companies. By using a direct-debit system, or charging customers' debit cards, T-Mobile can avoid paying credit card fees.

Aren't credit card fees simply included in the cost of doing business?

Consumers Energy Follows Suit

Michigan-based Consumers Energy made a similar announcement on its website.

"From the grocery store to online checkout, costs are rising. The same is true for card processing fees. To do our part and keep energy bills low for everyone, we will no longer be able to accept a credit or debit card for Auto-pay starting October 1, 2023. Please update your payment method by selecting the checking or savings account option. We are sorry for any inconvenience."

Consumers Energy serves about 6.7 million of Michigan's 10 million gas and electric customers.

Consumers customers will have the option to use the company's auto-pay system only if they set up a direct debit to a checking or savings account. Manual payments via credit cards will still be accepted after the change goes into effect.

The Bottom Line

So, if you're a customer of either of these companies and you take advantage of auto-pay, you'll be forced to update your payment method.

The reason I'm upset? I use a rewards credit card that accumulates points for every dollar spent on utilities such as T-Mobile and Consumers Energy. Each year, I rack up approximately $200 just for using that specific credit card as my method of payment.

You're taking money out of my pocket.

End of Rant.

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